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Eau Claire lawyer reinstated after suspension for ‘web of deception’

An Eau Claire lawyer who saw his law license suspended for engaging in a “web of deception” has been reinstated.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court granted William J. Spangler’s reinstatement on Tuesday.

Spangler lost his law license for six months, beginning in August 2016, for leading two clients to believe he was pursuing cases that in fact had been dismissed or were never filed in the first place. In its opinion announcing the disciplinary action, the court said Spangler “engaged in an elaborate web of deception” that included making fake documents and fake file stamps.

According to the court’s opinion granting his reinstatement, Spangler explained his conduct during a hearing in July. He said he kept up the ruse because he felt bad for the clients.

“I felt like I needed to personally demonstrate that I could help them while at the same time I kept telling myself that I couldn’t,” Spangler said.

A referee in his reinstatement case said Spangler has been very involved in his community since his suspension and committed to seeking help from other attorneys if he encounters a legal matter he can’t handle. Because Spangler wants to stay in the relatively small city of Eau Claire, the referee thought Spangler’s motivation to adhere to ethical rules will be “exceedingly strong.”

The referee recommended reinstatement, and the court agreed that Spangler met the burden of proof needed to justify reinstatement.

Spangler’s reinstatement is effective immediately. He must also pay the full costs of the reinstatement proceeding, which totaled $3,973.88 on October 27, 2020.

About Michaela Paukner,

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at

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